John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie Home / Louis Armstrong House

105-19 37th Avenue, 1921-22
34-55 107th Street, Robert W. Johnson, 1910

Located only a block apart are the residences of two jazz legends: great friends and nominal musical rivals John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. In the 1940s Gillespie (born in 1917 in South Carolina), made a name for himself as a trumpeter and bandleader in the New York City jazz scene, and is regarded today as one of the fathers of bebop. Gillespie owned and lived in this three-family Colonial Revival style building from 1952-66. Cornetist Louis Armstrong (born in 1901 in New Orleans) lived in this Renaissance Revival style rowhouse with his wife Lucille from 1943 until his death in 1971. Over four decades the Armstrongs left their mark on the house, which remains virtually the same as they left it—from the flamboyant 1970s decor, to the musical memorabilia, to the outdoor bar they installed in the garden for entertaining. After Lucille passed away in 1983, the house was donated by the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. In 2003 the house opened to the public as a museum, still owned by the city but managed by Queens College. The house next door at 34- 52 107th Street serves as the museum’s administrative building. It was bequeathed to the museum by Selma Heraldo, a good friend to the Armstrongs, after her death in 2011. Honoring Heraldo’s gift, the NYC Department of Design and Construction is restoring the house and renovating the interior to better serve the museum. The Louis Armstrong House is an Individual Landmark and listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.